Fair Haven’s PhotoVoice Project

Xóchitl García, Save the Sound Community Leader

This past summer, Xóchitl García led a photovoice project in Fair Haven. She recruited 13 neighborhood residents to document environmental assets and hazards through photography.

Residents took over 100 photos throughout the season, but only 50 were showcased in the final exhibit. Xóchitl identified five socio-environmental themes: Green and Blue Spaces, Abandoned Buildings, Trash Travels, A Safe Place, and The Homeless. To gather more perspectives and ideas on solutions to address these issues, Xóchitl, Melissa Pappas from Save the Sound, and New Haven Neighborhood Housing Services hosted two community charrettes at the Fair Haven Public Library. They then presented community-derived solutions from these charrettes in conjunction with the results of the PhotoVoice project to leaders, policy-makers, and city representatives at the final presentation hosted at Junta for Progressive Action at the end of September 2022.

Xóchitl and project participants plan to hold organizations and local authorities accountable for implementing these solutions through creative campaigning and a mini-series of workshops to further develop the ideas into proposal-ready projects. Ideally, an organization or a partner will commit to addressing these solutions in their capacity. At the same time, Fair Haven residents continue to be the source of inspiration and can hold organizations and decision-makers accountable for those commitments. Realistically, there will be one concrete solution as a first communal step toward environmental justice in Fair Haven.

Now, Xóchitl is establishing a strategic plan for community outreach and creating a winter workshop series next year. She wants to improve resident attendance in the spaces where people will make decisions. She believes representation is more important than ever in environmental justice. BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] cultures and non-English languages need the voice, the space, and the flexibility to communicate their matters that have been systemically disregarded.

To see the virtual exhibit of the Fair Haven PhotoVoice project, please visit: https://www.savethesound.org/urban-waters-initiative.

[On Thursday, Jan. 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m., see the PhotoVoice presentation in the Program Room of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave.]

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